View Full Version : Greatest Motor Racing Mistakes

Chris Elyea
09-28-2009, 11:15 AM
Saturday’s Petit Le Mans got me reminiscing about great motor racing mistakes of the past. Not mechanical failures or bad luck, I mean the kind when you’re watching a race and the result seems to have been decided, and then a driver just blows it, totally blows it, and that sticks in your mind forever. If motor racing had a blooper reel, I’d nominate these:

Allan McNish at the 2009 Petit Le Mans: Qualified 3rd, but better wet-weather performance allowed him to pass the two Peugeots at the start and lead 163 of the first 168 laps. The race was yellow-flagged due to rain, and while following the pace car, McNish spun and the Peugeots went by. Another downpour forced officials to stop the race only minutes later.
Roberto Guerroro at the 1992 Indy 500: Qualified on pole. As he was swerving back and forth to warm his tires on the pace lap, his car broke loose and he collided with the inside wall, putting him out of the race before it had started. (I didn't think he would win, but I expected him to take the green flag!)
Nigel Mansell at the 1991 Canadian Grand Prix: Having a substantial lead, on the last lap he slowed down and began waving to the crowd. Alas, the engine stopped before the finish line. He is officially listed as being the victim of a mechanical failure, but many believe he let the revs drop too low and stalled the engine.
Scott Goodyear at the 1995 Indy 500: Posted the fastest race lap and was leading with 10 laps to go, when he passed the pace car under yellow, giving fellow Canadian Jacques Villeneuve the lead and eventual win. Really memorable because Villeneuve had been given a two-lap penalty for passing the pace car earlier, but managed to get back on the lead lap.

Are there any that you just can't forget?

09-28-2009, 11:24 AM
Lewis Hamliton running off into the sand trap before the pit at China in 2007

09-28-2009, 04:21 PM
Valentino Rossi 2006 .. Went into Valencia with a points lead after Nicky Hayden got smashed off his bike by his own teammate Dani Pedrosa the week prior. Rossi crashed out of the race on the opening laps and Hayden went on to win the 2006 MotoGP Championship.

09-28-2009, 05:05 PM
Macau GP 1990, Mika Hakkinen won the first heat by quite some margin. At the end of the second heat, he was in second following close to Michael Schumacher, all he needed to win is to stay close. Instead he tried to pass and crashed in the second last lap. Schumacher won.

Chris Elyea
09-28-2009, 05:07 PM
Yes, who could ever forget Lewis' trip to China Beach!

Speaking of motorcycle racing, I read about a bad one in the 125 cc class at this year's Catalan Grand Prix (in Spain). Spanish rider Julián Simón dominated the race until he misread his pit board as he was coming to the line for the last lap. He thought he'd already won and slowed down to celebrate. He only realized the race was still on after three other riders had blown by.

Simón is having a stellar year, with 4 x 1sts, 4 x 2nds, and a 3rd, 4th (Catalan), and 5th, with one retirement. He's leading the championship by a healthy margin, so he may be able to survive his mistake.